10 Things I Learned in August 2016


At the end of each month, I share things that I learned. This habit helps me pay attention to life, myself, and God’s presence. It’s my way of reflecting and celebrating. It’s how I take notice and be present.

“10 Things I Learned” have become some of my favorite posts to write. I love the process of looking back, and seeing the deeper lessons that I might otherwise miss.

In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned this month:

1. How to say “selamat pagi” (good morning) well enough to make people in Indonesia think I am local.

It has been a few weeks since our amazing trip to Indonesia, and I continue to be grateful for that experience.

2. Ali Wong’s comedy special on Netflix is pee-your-pants hysterical.

I’ve watched this three times, and it gets funnier every time. I love that Ali is a spunky Asian woman who is masterfully funny storyteller. We need more of this! Warning: you need to be ready for cussing and topics like sex and vaginas.

netflix ali wong

3. How each Myers-Briggs Type reacts to stress (and how to help).

Read this article if you want to know how you (and others) uniquely react to stress. I can say that as an ENFJ married to an ENFJ, there are some really helpful and accurate insights here.

4. I am working on asking directly for what I want.

This is hard for me. Female + Asian + harmony lover = I don’t naturally ask for what I want. I can go for pretty long with stuffing my real desires down for long periods of time…which of course, is generally unhealthy for lots of reasons. But I’ve asked directly a few times this week, and each time I do, it gets easier. My mantra: “just say something and give the other person the chance to respond.”

5. Coaching a soccer team of 7-year-old boys takes lots of energy.

These boys. Just keeping them focused and on task for an hour of practice is requiring me to use every teaching/coaching/parenting strategy I can think of. I’m loving this coaching gig.


6. I am surrounded by some pretty great mentors.

In the last year, I’ve stumbled upon a handful of really wise people who I can turn to for input and counsel. Especially in this season of ministry, transition, and parenthood, I am so glad for these mentors making themselves available to help guide me.

7. Having three young kids is wild and insane, but sometimes it’s the best.

Recently, our kids have been playing together so well. Last week I found them having their own group story time. It is a wonder to witness their friendships grow.


8. My friend Amy Dixon writes wonderful children’s books.

Amy’s most recent book is Sophie’s Animal Parade, and my kids immediately fell in love with the magical, creative world that Sophie dreams up. Amy also wrote the book Marathon Mouse. If you know of any kids who love books, go pick up copies of Amy’s books!

9. My 1-year-old has finally lost that baby smell, and it makes me so sad.

I will admit that I am one of those weirdo parents who takes deep inhales to get that baby-scent high. Please, someone. Find a way to bottle the newborn baby smell and turn it into an essential oil. I will love you forever.

10. Any form of change we undergo involves three factors: vision, intention, and means.

Dallas Willard explores this in Renovation of the Heart. Vision is that picture of the preferred future – the way it could be if a change took place. Declaring and deciding our intention is essential: we move from thinking about a particular change to intending that change to occur. And finally, we need the means: the various processes we engage or resources we pursue in order to experience the change. I’ve been thinking a lot about how change happens for people, and love those moments when someone has all three of the factors – the vision, intention, and means – to change.

What about you, friend? What things did you learn this month?

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Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Our ice cream maker has been forlornly tucked away in the back of our kitchen cabinet for a while, just begging to be used. So a few days ago, I decided to whip up some ice cream.

After some debate, I went with this recipe for salted caramel ice cream. Because if there is ever an option for salted caramel ANYTHING, I will take it. When I go to an ice cream shop, and see that salted caramel ice cream is offered, I think to myself, “These are my people. They just get me.”

This salted caramel ice cream is just perfection. The classic custard base results in a silky, creamy, smooth ice cream. A deep, dark caramel is created by slowly browning sugar, and then mixed into the custard base. I doubled the recipe, which was a good call because this ice cream will not last long our house.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Print this recipe
Prep time: 20 minutes
Yield: about 1 1/2 pints


  • 3/4 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
  • 6 large egg yolks


In a medium pot over medium heat, melt 3/4 cup of sugar with 3 tablespoons water, swirling pan frequently until the sugar turns dark amber brown.

Stir in 1/2 cup sugar, heavy cream, milk, and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt. Simmer until caramel and sugar dissolves, and cream mixture is completely smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about 1/3 of the hot cream into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on a kitchen thermometer).

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cool mixture to room temperature. Cover and chill in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer.


Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas

Time for chicken fajitas! We had this for dinner a few nights ago, and it was so good. And it was crazy simple to make. You basically sear the meat on a skillet, then sear the veggies. Serve with warm tortillas, and you’ve got yourself a tasty meal.

I made the marinade a few hours before dinner, and let the chicken steep in the wonderful spice mixture. When I make this again (and I will), I’ll probably marinate it even longer. Chicken breasts or thighs can be used. I prefer thigh meat because it’s more flavorful and doesn’t dry out as much.

Chicken Fajitas

Print this recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings


  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola, safflower, peanut or grapeseed oil (a high smoke point oil)
  • 1 large onion, sliced lengthwise (root to tip) into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 bell peppers of various colors, sliced into 1/4-inch strips


  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Sliced avocado
  • Flour tortillas
  • Shredded cheese


Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a glass or plastic container. Add the chicken. Mix well, cover, and let marinate for up to 8 hours in the fridge.

Heat a large cast iron skillet on high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan. Remove chicken from marinade and salt on both sides. As soon as the oil begins to smoke, lay the chicken pieces flat on the pan in one layer. You may have to sear the chicken in a few batches. Let the chicken cook for 3-4 minutes, until you have a good sear. Once seared on one side, flip chicken and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the pan, stack, and cover with aluminum foil to rest.

Add another tablespoon to the pan. As soon as the oil is hot, add the onions and peppers to the pan. Use a spatula to scrape up any browned bits of chicken, and stir to coat the onions and peppers in the oil and browned bits. Spread vegetables in an even layer on the pan. Let them cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes, allowing them to sear. Stir, and let cook for another 2 minutes.

Slice the chicken, and serve immediately with cooked onions and peppers, sour cream, salsa, avocado, warm tortillas, and shredded cheese.